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16 Sun's Dawn, 2920
"What troubles you?" asked Queen Hasaama, noticing her husband's sour mood. At the end of most Lovers' Days he was in an excellent mood, dancing in the ballroom with all the guests, but tonight he retired early. When she found him, he was curled in the bed, frowning.
"That blasted bard's tale about Polydor and Eloisa put me in a rotten state," he growled. "Why did he have to be so depressing?"
"But isn't that the truth of the tale, my dear? Weren't they doomed because of the cruel nature of the world?"
"It doesn't matter what the truth is, he did a rotten job of telling a rotten tale, and I'm not going to let him do it anymore," King Dro'Zel sprang from the bed. His eyes were rheumy with tears. "Where did they say he was from again?"
Dro'Zel was out of the room in a single spring, bounding up the stairs to his tower. If Queen Hasaama knew what her husband was going to do, she did not try to stop him. He had been erratic of late, prone to fits and even occasional seizures. But she never suspected the depths of his madness, and his loathing for the bard and his tale of the wickedness and perversity found in mortal man.
19 Sun's Dawn
"Listen to me again," said the old carpenter. "If cell three holds worthless brass, then cell two holds the gold key. If cell one holds the gold key, then cell three hold worthless brass. If cell two holds worthless brass, then cell one holds the gold key."
"I understand," said the lady. "You told me. And so cell one holds the gold key, right?"
"No," said the carpenter. "Let me start from the top."
"Mama?" said the little boy, pulling on his mother's sleeve.
"Just one moment, dear, mother's talking," she said, concentrating on the riddle. "You said 'cell three holds the golden key if cell two holds worthless brass,' right?"
"No," said the carpenter patiently. "Cell three holds worthless brass, if cell two—"
"Mama!" cried the boy. His mother finally looked.
29 Sun's Dawn
Almalexia stopped her steed in the vast moor of mud to let him drink from the river. He refused to, even seemed repelled by the water. It struck her as odd: they had been making excellent time from Mournhold, and surely he must be thirsty. She dismounted and joined her retinue.
"Where are we now?" she asked.
One of her ladies pulled out a map. "I thought we were approaching a town called Gilverdale."
Almalexia closed her eyes and opened them again quickly. The vision was too much to bear. As her followers watched, she picked up a piece of brick and a fragment of bone, and clutched them to her heart.
"We must continue on to Artaeum," she said quietly.
|The Year 2920, Vol. 5|
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